Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Fulfilment

Put On Your Happy Face

Anglo-Dutch food-manufacturing giant Unilever wanted insight into consumer responses to their food brands. They decided to find out not only if their products made people happy, but exactly how happy.

Enter an organization called Visual Recognition (VR), a Dutch computer innovation lab attached to Amsterdam University. VR’s technology and software was designed for optically reading facial expressions and translating them into mathematically measurable degrees of satisfaction.

The system works by creating a 3-D facial map that tracks shifts in twelve key areas of muscle-movement. The result is a consistent and apparently highly accurate register of emotions such as sadness, distaste, surprise and – of course – happiness.

A panel of 300 women (the ladies are more facially expressive than their men-folk, apparently) were recorded while eating different kinds of ice-cream, confectionery and fruit.  A dominant 87% registered apples as ‘neutral’ rather than actively pleasant.  Yoghurt was ‘sad’ for a surprisingly high 28% if the sample. 

Perhaps most revealingly, ‘healthy-option’ ice-creams scored fewer smiling faces than their full-fat equivalents.

But wait. Didn’t we already kind of know all that?

Zone: Self-Fulfilment Country: Europe Product – Consumer Products